Skip to main content

Full text of "History And Human Relation"

See other formats


between these points of view, and can see how the world
came to pass from the one to the other. One of the
great themes of all parts of the New Testament, however
is the transition to a higher righteousness still, the
transition to the view that love is the fulfilling of the
Law. It amounts to the discovery of a new posture
that man should assume under the sun, a different role
that he is to play in a human drama that is now differently
construed. Christians themselves have not always' re-
membered to keep on the right side of this transition,
and that is why one of their own dangers has constantly
been the legalism or the Pharisaism that the &ew
Testament condemns. Since we are not all St
Augustines it comes to be held that we need to be
guided by specific rules which work out some of the
practical consequences of our fundamental principle.
But these subordinate precepts too easily petrify and
turn into absolute laws, so that churchmen even lag
behind other people sometimes when fresh formulas of
action are needed to meet new occasions. It is easy to
forget that the workaday precepts and subordinate
regulations need constantly to be rechecked against the
fundamental principle, the ultimate law of love.

Now, this Christian law of love lends itself to easy
secularisation, and it cannot be too strongly stated that
it is liable to a serious impoverishment in the process,
Nothing is more remarkable—to take only one example—
than the way in which the precept " Love your neigh-
bour " can be carried to its actual inversion through the
intervention of a few abstract nouns. And so loose is
our common use of words that some men cannot